Summer Therapy Opportunity

If you want to get started with your therapeutic journey or just wanted to see if we’re a fit by getting started I thought I’d let you in on our sale.

I just wanted to let you know that if you’d like therapy with Dr. Joharchi you can get started today in order to secure your 20% off discount for new clients.

New patients to Soft Heart Psychology who start by August 31st, 2022 can secure their package of 20% off eight sessions. After the eighth appointment together we’d complete our work or begin sessions at full price.

This is a great way to see if you fit with someone and can really get to the things you want to address. This is also a great way to see if eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy works for you.

So often we think the first initial intake session will help us see if there’s a fit, but sometimes it takes a few sessions to iron out what we need and who’s a match. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to see if a type of therapy fits for you for example EMDR versus an eclectic approach. And some of us simply would love to get started, but just want a little incentive.

You can lock this package in today by emailing Dr. Joharchi directly or scheduling your free 15 minute consultation.

Pause in Your Relationships

I just wanted to note a couple of times the importance of pause came up for me recently. Someone asked more of me than I can extend and I wanted to be honest and not fall back into people pleasing inauthenticity. I actually paused and asked for guidance quietly within.

I asked for guidance because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to extend something I don’t have time for or whether I wanted to share other feelings. I wasn’t sure and I paused!

When I recommend something in session I try it out first. So if I’m recommending meditation, body scans, or other ways of taking a beat to check in before taking on more than I want to or can then I want you to know I’m over here doing the same recommendations myself too. I’m taking that mindfulness moment to check in too. I’m noticing the distress in my body and how my mind wants to do all the things. I’m also noticing my energetic limits. I was so grateful for all the people and powers that contributed to my pause moments recently. It was a beautiful and connected conversation followed by the relief of knowing that I didn’t lie by saying I can do more than I can or stuff my inner needs down.

Another time I paused was when I felt anger and wanted to stick to the point. Rather than going all over the place it is helpful to stick to one issue at a time. I really only had one thing that was hurting deep below and by pausing I was able to connect to that and share it with kindness and directness. I was honest and avoided the aggression of pretending to people please. This doesn’t always happen and someone I love says something like “two steps forward, two steps back sometimes.”

Looking at how people pleasing hasn’t been authentic has helped me to practice meditation daily, even if only for a minute or two just noting what’s here. I’m so grateful to providers who offer meditations such as Dr. Dowtin’s Unpacking Anger meditation. I’m really wondering what ways help you pause. What are some moments in which you’ve paused recently? Feel free to reach out and let us know in the comments below.

How to Soothe Loved Ones Concerning Violence

I’m sorry to say I was invited to support a town hall recently that was dealing with scared adolescents and families concerning a recent planned shooting and bombing. It was sad and scary, and I said that. I couldn’t help but be transparent about the grim nature of it all. I also wanted to share with you how grateful I felt that the council members had so much thoughtfulness to invite multiple healing providers and listened deeply and with action to their constituents. I was moved by their responsiveness and care.

Folks were eager to learn about some of the suggestions I identified in a PDF so I’ll share those with you below. These are ways in which we can support young people dealing with school shootings and to connect with our own inner scared parts for love and attunement.

Always of course have a safety plan and discuss that together. Also, here are some suggestions for big feelings regarding scary things happening at school. 

  1. Acknowledge big feelings by reflecting like a mirror. 
    1. For example “I hear you saying you feel scared and numb” and you can see this to a friend or to yourself if you’re giving your inner world a chance to be heard too.
  1. You can honor big feelings for short periods of time and then reengage in parasympathetic nervous system activities. 
    1. Cry, write, feel, or talk and feel the feelings fully for a few minutes.  
    2. And then do some parasympathetic nervous system activities such as taking slow breaths from the bottom of your belly. 
  1. Reconnect with the greater good in whatever way that looks for you. 
    1. For example some might look at a tree outside a window or take a mindful minute to notice what they notice in their body. 
  1. Check in with someone to make sure you don’t have acute trauma like new sleep problems or feel jumpy/on edge.  You can talk with a school counselor or community member; sometimes the best listeners are the ones who just listen the way we like.  
    1. We can also ask someone to listen in a way that feels so good for you like “can you please listen to my words and nod when you hear me, but not give me advice?”
  1. Give yourself some limits. 
    1. Check out what you can do for the next couple of weeks so you can be gentle with yourself and your schedule if possible.  
    2. Check out our Podcast episode on how to handle social media when the world seems scary here.

Wishing you safety and ease in your nervous system and the world today.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

Do You Want to Leave Therapy to Find Your Dream Therapist?

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Here’s the thing, when thinking of your therapy, if you don’t feel like you found a secret gem then you may want to do some self reflection here. Sometimes people feel connected to and grateful for their therapy. Sometimes people feel it is hard and like their therapist may mirror something they didn’t want to see, but that is helpful. I’m not saying therapy needs to leave you feeling good. However, if week after week you’re feeling unheard then there may be a mismatch. I think sometimes we grow out of our work with our therapist or need a different type of therapy.

There’s a number of reasons why things might not be working out for you in therapy. Perhaps it is financial strain (hint: therapy in America where we don’t have accessible services costs about 20% of folks’ monthly budget), scheduling differences, need for virtual or in-person sessions, or other factors. Some of these situations may illuminate the path to you finding the best fit for you if there’s a problem with the therapeutic fit that makes it hard to connect. Here are some examples of people who may no longer fit with their therapist:

  1. Client 1: Her therapist listens in a way that bothers her. She told her therapist she wants direct feedback, but her therapist listens with body language and provides reflections like a mirror, but therapist’s reflections and body language aren’t the direct feedback the client wants.
  2. Client 2: They’ve discussed what they came in to discuss and now it is changing. Perhaps they started doing grief work and now want to work on their relationship. Now it may be time to switch to a relationship therapist.
  3. Client 3: He said he wants help finding a partner. In exploring attachments from the past, the therapist assumes partner means such and such gender rather than asking. This hurts the client and he’s able to bring it up to his therapist and feel his therapist’s apology and amendment was authentic and heart felt. Still, his therapist focuses on outdated understandings of what it means for the patient to find the partner of his dreams and this leaves the client feeling scared of the therapist’s next misunderstanding or lack of awareness.
  4. Client 4: They want direct coaching on dating and their therapist knows about anxiety and childhood trauma. They like their therapist’s cultural competency, but they don’t feel there’s a fit with the type of therapy the therapist is doing.
  5. Client 5: He just went through a divorce and is grieving, but his therapist keeps on pointing out his wins. He battles with a dance between gratitude and grief internally. He appreciate’s his therapist’s outlook, but is kind of over his therapist’s toxic positivity.
  6. Client 6: She loves learning about things and growing. She’s been depressed throughout the pandemic. Her psychologist focuses on moving, talking with people, and then praising her once she gets to these goals. While she’s thrilled she can be more active and engaged now, she is so insightful and wants to know about this depression response given it wasn’t the first time and she’d love to know where it comes from and how to address it next time. She’s looking for more depth in her next steps of therapy.

I hope these were a few examples of ways in which you may yourself wanting something different or more from your therapy work. Hopefully, your therapist is taking the responsibility of checking in and seeing how therapy is going for you. If not, you may decide to have a conversation or series of conversations to see if these issues can be resolved or if you need to close your case and move on to another therapist. You may want to joy down a few notes of what worked and what didn’t work for you regarding this therapy experience so your next therapist will have an idea if there is a fit based on your needs. If you want to find out more about finding the match you need for your healing work check out our podcast. There will be another episode on our Breaking The Couch podcast next week to help folks with addressing those awkward moments or ruptures with your current therapist.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

Post Traumatic Growth

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What would you do if you were free from some trauma?  There are so many aspects of trauma recovery that I get to witness in my work with patients. In fact, sometimes clients want to share with me what they’ve done with their extra time now that they aren’t people pleasing and being perfectionistic as much. I like to think of these moments as post-traumatic growth. We may work week after week on validating and healing their traumas and forget to feel the full extent of their moments of growth through and after some of their healing. When clients come to me with these moments I want to jump up and down. I kind of hold it in a bit since I don’t want them to feel pressure to be toxically positive or always share some growth moment in therapy. But these are huge moments everyone! These are those moments that may feel tiny, but you can’t wait to share them with that friend or family member who is doing similarly in their life.

I’ve had the pleasure of having people share with me in our work together that they feel more rest in their life. I’ve had folks tell me about how they asked for more money from higher ups and are now earning what their counterparts are earning! I’ve had people share with me that they have more room for creativity. Folks share with me about how they even feel more connection! So at the expense of sounding too positive or like that’s the only thing we want to highlight, I do also want to make room for all those times we notice progress. I find it a tricky balance between this old school push for productivity and change and positivity (which I now see as more harmful than helpful in some ways) and simply being. When people just be I get a chance to hear how they feel more rested and creative. I learn how they are when they get to sink into who they really are. It doesn’t mean they were inauthentic all those years they were functioning from a disassociated, traumatized place. It just means we get to acknowledge them being them today, perhaps with less of the protections they once needed.

I’m really grateful to be doing this work and would love to hear a moment of post-traumatic growth you’re noticing in yourself today.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

Connection: Free Support Group

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What do you feel when you’re connected? We know connection can be an antidote to several difficulties and suffering in society. We are hosting a support group for people throughout the US to join and can provide accommodations.

We just wanted to let folks know they can email me at drjoharchi@softheartpsychology.com within the next few days to be one of the few people to join a super small and safe group of folks for folks with different-abilities. At Soft Heart Psychology we wanted to invite a small and safe group of people in for a support group. Dr. Joharchi is able and White bodied and cisgender and will acknowledge this in her work with this support group. She will work to come from a place of cultural humility rather than a “cultural competence” approach.

People in the group are BIPOC and Queer/gender expansive and we hope you’ll join if you feel it may be supportive for you too! While folks have different physical abilities the topics in the group will be anything that feels safe and pertinent to the group each week. We plan to meet on Mondays from 4-5 pm Eastern Time (or 1-2 pm Pacific Time) and will be getting started soon.

Most of the activities we will engage in will be to create group connection, without isolating folks who are gender expansive like some work rooted in psychology can do such as asking folks to touch their heart when this may illicit dysphoria for some.

We wanted to create a space where people can come into the support group for a few weeks, gain a toolkit of strategies, and then process with one another.

Please let us know if you have questions and send us an email shortly to get a free consultation and see if you’d like to join shortly because we close the group by 5/25.

Click here for your free 15 minute consultation!

Queer Relationship-ing

This week I want to share a tip that may be helpful if you don’t have many folks to go to in your community about your relationships. This approach may be helpful whether you’d like to show up differently with friends, partners, or family. I was posting about this suggestion as I find it to be super helpful and I want to share it outside of the therapeutic walls in case it’s helpful for you too!

So you know about the “pursuer dynamic” right? Basically one person is over there pursuing and another is not. Well in Getting the Love You Want authors and experts of Imago Therapy discuss how often times someone in a partnership may sort of get quiet or withdraw during tension while another may get big with their feelings. Hey, as someone with big feelings I want to know all the tips on how not to scare away friends or other loved ones when I want to connect. When someone needs that quiet time, Imago encourages us to honor that.

It sounds easier said than done. However, if we can say something like, “Take a beat, I’ll be here when you’re ready.” We aren’t abandoning or rejecting the one who sort of “turtles” under tension. We also aren’t overwhelming them or their nervous system while they do their thing. We also aren’t abandoning our own needs because we’re essentially there when they’re ready to return in like five or ten minutes. We are able to then get our needs met by talking it out in a way that feels less intense for all and no one is abandoned. Now if there’s lots of this or people don’t come back to talk you may benefit from getting another party involved through relationship therapy.

Unfortunately, Queer folks don’t always feel comfortable or safe going to family or their communities for support around this stuff. Hey, even amazing relationship therapies like Imago Therapy started with rejecting Lesbian and Gay people from their trainings and teachings! If even therapists and healers couldn’t initially access these supports then we know Queer folks have less easy access to relationship-ing in different and healthier ways than straight, cisgender folks who aren’t Queer, but want to approach their relationships differently.

I’m hoping that Queer folks out there can now access support in safe therapeutic relationships, friendships, and communities where they can show up as their best selves in relationship with themselves and others. Thanks folks and let me know if you want more out of me about this next week.

More Opinions That Hurt Trans People

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So we’re back and I need to discuss more things that injure, isolate, and disconnect transgender and gender expansive people from the connection needed to live. I believe the whole way we have things set up where we ask folks to meet with a long list of docs before getting their medical needs met is a huge injury. I’ve heard advisors tell me they meet with, question and quiz transgender folx in order to make sure their next steps in gender affirming care are the right ones. I’ve heard many sides argued here. I’ve become a Gender Therapist and learned the world path association for transgender health (WPATH, v. 7). I get it, I’m cisgender, but I don’t get how through WPATH, insurance, and medical systems of abuse we neglect people through this gate keeping process.

I believe that the opinion that transgender people should take some weird gender quizzes about what toys they played with is gate keeping and unhelpful. This opinion, not fact, is exactly what gives the field of psychology a bad name. If you come to me or anyone I recommend for a gender affirming surgery letter you will get more mindfulness around this gate keeping process. It’s not to say we’re not a part of it, but we do try our best to work through these oppressive systems and support the patients we serve to obtain the medically necessary care they need.

I’m also a believer in the letters being an open channel of support and communication if that’s what the patient wants. So long as we’re not further blocking people from the medically necessary care they need because we want to cover our butts or ask them about what toys they played with growing up I think we’re off to a better start.

There are so many ways we can come together and connect rather than isolate. Let me know if you’d like more on how we can work together with our gender expansive family.

Opinions That Hurt Trans Children

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I’m skipping the general hellos this time because I’m livid and concerned. As a psychologist, a healing provider. I’m so concerned with an email I just got from Florida. I’m recently licensed in Florida and they sent providers a bull $hit email about abusing transgender children. I’m not surprised, I’m just deeply disheartened and disappointed. The email said some b$ like there’s “low-quality evidence” for providing gender affirming care. So wait. So folks from the World Psychological Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and San Francisco State University who put out a bunch of information about how when we support young LGBTQ folks they live and they live safer lives is all lies?! How can that be?!

I’m so disappointed.

We are harming children and adolescents and transgender and gender expansive friends and loved ones. I get it, I’m cisgender and have loads of privilege that come with that. I get it that this isn’t about me. And I do wonder if my silence would be violence here (well and everywhere else). I wonder if I keep my mouth shut about this then I’m contributing to suicide and substance abuse of people born into an incongruent body. San Francisco State University came out with the Family Acceptance Project explaining that the chances of suicidality and substance abuse go down when we invite LGBTQ young people into their families, communities and society. Data indicate we have a chance to actually save lives with kindness.

Also, gender expansiveness far surpasses our time and space. Folks have been gender expansive long before colonialism. Throughout time and culture we have seen people not fit into a binary of “boy” and “girl” gender. I wonder if most folks would land somewhere outside of the binary if we all grew up in a less colonialist environment.

I posted about this on a social media and got a lot of negative comments from people without one bit of data or research to support their opinions. On the other hand I connected with other experts and am grateful to hear of so many folks doing good, supportive work out there. So for the people who want to hate on gender expansiveness, thanks for bringing us together.

Thanks for coming together,

Dr. Joharchi

Dating Exploration: Being More Present

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Dear Soft Hearts,

Welcome back for more on love and relating. I love this topic! I hope you’ve gotten something helpful from this series so far and if not keep reading because we have a couple more weeks of fun with dating and love.

One of my all time favorite routes of exploring and supporting relationships is through Imago Therapy. From my understanding Imago therapy was made by White people and held for straight couples. Yikes! Imago therapy, much like many other therapy approaches now includes a variety of people and relationship types and styles. I actually first learned more about heard about Imago Therapy from members in the LGBTQ and Black communities.

One of the strategies that I love about Imago Therapy that I’ll share with you here today much like I’d share with a client is called “Identifying Exits.” Oh this is a juicy one so get ready! “Identifying Exits” tells folks they can identify ways in which they check out of their relationships and repeat a childhood pattern. For example, someone may avoid their partners by checking work emails or cleaning inadvertently to get private time. Imago Therapy or the book, Getting the Love you Want, helps people explore where that need for private time came from. For example, if someone’s caregiver was overbearing with their emotions and checking in the now adult may desire this alone time in their current partnerships. There’s no need to transform exits, it is simple about noting and identifying the exits. Once we note the exits we then can work with patients to reflect on what this exit does to intimacy and presence in their relationships. If someone is in need of private time and constantly looking at their phone rather than asserting their need for private time their partner may experience a lack of presence or intimacy on the other end of this interaction.

It’s really possible to rewrite the script. I’ve seen folks who didn’t grow up with healthy models in relationships use these strategies to connect more deeply with their loved ones. I find it amazing that we can connect more deeply by noticing where we check out and where it came from. Anyway that we can show up more authentically in partnerships also helps us be more connected within too.

See you next week for more on this dating stuff!

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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